The Best Korean Drinks
Traditional Korean beverages roughly fall into two categories: alcoholic and nonalcoholic. The nonalcoholic drinks are a large group of 200 types of traditional teas, juices, and grain drinks. Let’s just narrow down the Korean drinks to a few of the most interesting and popular choices.
Bokbunja is wine from blackberries native to the Korean Peninsula. Its sweet, berry flavor, though oxblood in color, is similar to dessert wine than a red wine. Koreans have long drank it for male virility, regarding it as an aphrodisiac, and scientists have confirmed only later that the berry increases testosterone and sperm count in lab mice.
Soju is Korea’s national liquor, a cheap and effective way to get drunk. The taste resembles that of slightly sweet, watered-down vodka, tasting like sugar dissolved in rubbing alcohol. The most popular brands in Seoul are Chamisul and Chum Churum, but there are also interesting sojus outside of Seoul, like Andong soju, which taste like sake.
Makgeolli is the oldest alcohol in Korea, but unlike other clear alcohols, it is unfiltered. So its color is milky white with sediments at the bottom; it’s a little tangy and refreshing. It was considered a farmers’ drink before, made from rice, but the younger Koreans today treat it as a fruit cocktail, mixing it with cider, making it very popular now.
Cheongju, literally meaning “clear liquor” and the most popular brand is Chung Ha, if one gets tired of Soju. It’s made from rice, fermented multiple times, giving them a pure and sweet taste. Chungha costs a bit more than soju.
Green plum tea comes from little green plums, known as maesil. Koreans will often ferment the plums with sugar and make a batch of maesil syrup, essentially a plum concentrate, that they can store and use as a refreshing beverage in the summer or a tea in the winter. The longer it is fermented, the syrup can become alcoholic, known as maesil-ju.
Citron tea, also known as yuzu, is made with yuzu fruit and hot water. The citron fruit looks like a large tangerine, but has a tart flavor closely akin to grapefruit. As with the green plum, Koreans preserve thin slices of citron in honey or sugar. A jar of citron honey is a herbal remedy for colds and other winter ailments. Just drop a tablespoon of the syrup in some hot water and you have citron tea.
Enjoying the Best Korean Drinks in Bellevue
Over at Seoul Hot Pot, we serve some of Korea’s famous beverages. Know more when you dine and drink with us.